Keep Sore Shoulders From Ruining Your Sleep
Shoulder pain can make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. It is particularly tricky to tackle this issue due to the bidirectional pain-sleep connection. Let’s look at that relationship, along with what you can do to get rest and maintain your health if you are suffering from this health condition.
A look at the pain-sleep relationship
The really challenging aspect of the sleep and pain connection is that they both impact one another. In other words, there is a bidirectional relationship between them – a truly vicious cycle. Research has shown that getting insufficient sleep can contribute to chronic pain symptoms; in turn, chronic pain makes it difficult to get high-quality sleep.
Tufts University Public Health and Community Medicine professor Daniel Carr, MD, has studied pain conditions for decades. He noted in Sleep Review in 2016 that this bidirectional relationship is well-established for chronic pain. Actually, he even pointed out that the same pattern (disruption of sleep leading to more pain and, in turn, slower recovery) was evident in acute patients as well. One of the prime examples of an acute pain scenario in which loss of sleep can become a factor is recovery from surgery.
Dr. Carr added that there is another issue beyond lack of sleep contributing to pain and pain contributing to sleep deprivation. “[S]ome medicines used to treat pain (e.g., opioids) interfere with sleep architecture and reduce the normally restorative effect of sleep,” he said. It is particularly noteworthy that Dr. Carr made that comment since he was recently the president of a major medical society related to the topic, the American Academy of Pain Medicine.
Tips for better sleep with shoulder pain
What can you do about this complex issue? Here are four quick pieces of advice to keep shoulder pain from interrupting your sleep:
- Pay attention to how you sleep. Your sleep position is fundamental to pain relief. Avoid lying flat on your back, instead lying on your side. To keep pain from becoming disruptive, one thing you can try is sleeping with a sling or with your arm wrapped. By keeping your arm from moving, you will avoid getting into an uncomfortable position.
- Strengthen your posture. Problematic posture or working with improper alignment contributes to shoulder pain conditions. Examples include slouching of the shoulders, which often occurs in people with desk jobs.
- Thermotherapy can be effective. When there is inflammation in your shoulder, or if the pain is from an injury that occurred recently, try applying an ice pack for 10 minutes at a time. In most other cases of shoulder pain, heating is a good way to alleviate the discomfort – especially if there is tension within the muscles.
- Get an appointment with a doctor. Pain that goes on for three or more days, or that occurs off and on for a couple weeks, should be brought to the attention of your physician.
Are you experiencing shoulder pain that is disrupting your sleep? We can help. At Health Star Clinic, we are confident that our treatment programs will help you even if other treatments have failed. See our New Patient Promises.